CBS News Rolls Out New HD Room

In just a few weeks, “CBS Evening News” will mark a major milestone in its history—broadcasting in high definition. To reach this moment meant building a new HD control room, designated “CR47HD,” in the CBS Broadcast Center. CR47HD will normally operate with the existing news studio, Studio 47, albeit with new HD cameras.

“The current Control Room 47 was built in 1985, and a lot has changed since then in how news is gathered,” said Frank M. Governale, vice president of operations at CBS News. “With video compression and wide data pipes, we’re able to do multicamera remotes without sending out mobile units. Instead, we’re bringing back all the cameras to the Broadcast Center so we can produce and switch the broadcast from New York.”

The new control room was designed to take in many more simultaneous feeds than before, accepting feeds arriving on fiber as data circuits or via satellite.

“It also has the ability to provide tally, communications, telephony and even remote sub-switching to the field,” Governale said. “This allows the New York control room the ability to switch a local routing switcher at the remote so tape machines, edit machines, cameras, etc., can be routed to the production switcher by the TD. The new MPEG-4 HD encoders we have are capable of feeding ASI and/or IP. We’re currently planning on using ASI for the prime and IP for backup.”

(click thumbnail)Tom Crocker, video operator for CBS News, mans the new TD console.VIDEO PRODUCTION CONTROL

The video production control room occupies 1,156 square feet and has two full tiers of seating and a smaller third tier.

In front of the first tier is the monitor wall, which is supported by an adjustable strut and rail system, and is equipped with a combination of Panasonic plasma displays, as well as Sony and Ikegami LCD monitors. The plasma displays, fed via an Evertz MVP Multiviewer Processing System, are used for confidence monitoring of multiple feeds. The monitor wall also includes Image Video tally and under-monitor displays.

The front tier is occupied by the TD, director, assistant director, production assistant, and, depending on the broadcast, by an executive producer.

The TD position is outfitted with an 80-input Sony MVS-8000G multiformat production switcher with four M/E busses. The switcher has access to 22 feeds from the Broadcast Center MAX plant router, as well as feeds from the new local Evertz 162x162 HD/SD multiformat routing switcher. SD feeds are automatically upconverted to HD.

The second and third tiers of consoles contain the producer stations. Gear for each station includes a pair of RTS/Telex intercom keypanels (one main, the other an expansion panel) for intercom and a separate main keypanel for IFB and talkback to talent. The intercom system consists of a 384-port RTS/Telex Adam with some RVON VoIP capability, plus a two-frame RTS/Telex Cronus for IFB routing.

(click thumbnail)Brian McGovern, audio operator for CBS News, at the controls.Also at each producer’s position is a dual TFT video monitor panel, Wohler audio monitor, Evertz push-button router control panel and a small mixer to allow producers to add sources like intercom, router output, or phone to their headsets.

Suspended from the ceiling of the second and third tiers are eyebrow monitors fed from the house RF system. Each monitor feed is individually selectable.

To the rear of the production control room is a separate “mini-fishbowl” 216-square-foot meeting room that can be closed off from the rest of the operation. It was designed for pre-production preparation for back-to-back productions.


Also inside the production control room are racks for the video operators and lighting. The VO racks contain the remote panels for Sony camera control units which are lo-cated in the equipment room. There are 12 CCUs and this number can be increased to 16.

CBS outfitted Studio 47 with eight Sony HDC-1400 studio cameras fitted with Canon lenses and mounted on Vinten robotic pedestals. The studio also employs four Sony HDC-X310 POV cameras equipped with Canon lenses.

The CCUs themselves are located in a 680-square-foot equipment room that also contains frames for the router, video switcher and audio mixing systems. There are also a number of Evertz embedders and de-embedders (CBS distributes embedded signals throughout its plant), along with upconverters with built-in color correctors, AES distribution amps, audio A/D converters and fiber-optic converters.

The upconverter control system was specially constructed for the facility by Evertz. That resulted in the new Evertz CP-3216-PROC panel with the familiar knobs and controls used by the video operators. Upconverters are selected via the local router control panel, the router crosspoint is established and the CP-3216-PROC then controls that channel.


The new audio control room consists of two rooms separated by a sliding glass isolation door. There’s a 324-square-foot audio mixing room and a 180-square-foot room for communications, jackfields and equipment racks. This is a departure from previous audio control room designs at CBS, which combined both operations and equipment into a single room.

The main digital audio mixing system is a Calrec Alpha with Bluefin DSP with 480-channel processing paths, 20 auxes and 48 multitracks. The 96-fader control surface is configured in a U-shape to fit the control room. The news broadcasts will be mixed in stereo, and the console will produce the mix-minus feeds to the IFB system.

The facility is also equipped with a Calrec Omega digital audio console with Bluefin DSP and has 160 channel processing paths, 20 auxes and 48 multitracks and a 40 fader desk. This second console will be used for music, digital cart machines and as a backup to the main mixing system.

The communication room is used primarily for audio patching and for establishing intercom, IFB and phone communications with remotes.

Near the control room are two announce booths with access to all feeds. One voice-over room is set up for standard announcing tasks such as show opens and closes. The second booth can accommodate three or four people and may be used for simultaneous translations.


“One of the design goals was to keep the noise level down,” Governale said.

He was referring not just to environmental noise produced by HVAC equipment and sound leakage between rooms, but also people noise—chatter—inside the room.

That goal was met in a number of ways. In previous CBS designs, the on-air graphics operators were located in the production control room, but this arrangement was changed in the new facility.

“This forces the production people to use the intercom and not just yell back to graphics,” Governale said.

Also staff members do not have to walk through the audio area to get to the production control room.

Another previous source of noise came from the constant production staff queries concerning remote check-ins and establishment of communications. This was remedied by a check-in tally system CBS designed and built and which is tied into the under-monitor display system.

“When the operations manager orders up a remote he enters the information into a yet to be named system,” Governale said. “This information is available for everyone to see, including audio. When the remote line comes up, the audio communications technician will check that remote in and give them the proper IFB. Once he’s done, he has a computer and touchscreen for entering in the RTS mnemonic and for triggering a UMD tally in the multipix display so everyone in the control room is aware that the remote is ready for air and what the RTS mnemonic is so they can talk to the remote.”

The new control room was designed, engineered and installed by CBS Engineering. The project architect was HLW, the acoustical consultant was Shen Milsom & Wilke and the furniture manufacturer was TBC.